Study: LGBT Older Americans Have Lower Quality of Life, More Symptoms of Depression than Heterosexuals

September 25, 2019

The vast majority of research focusing on life satisfaction, quality of life, sexual satisfaction, and overall well-being in older adults has been limited to heterosexuals, with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) older adults underrepresented. However, a new study in the September issue of JAMDA shows that these individuals report significantly lower quality of life and greater symptoms of depression than their heterosexual counterparts; and the authors suggested that the well-being of LGBT older adults requires more study.

In Well-Being Among Older Gay and Bisexual Men and Women in England: A Cross-sectional Population Study, the authors looked at 5,691 participants (326 LGBT and 5,365 heterosexual). They found that the LGBT participants reported significantly lower mean quality of life and life satisfaction than their heterosexual counterparts. They also were much less likely to report satisfaction with their overall sex life and were more likely to self-report having symptoms of depression.

After adjusting for sociodemographic and health-related issues, the authors documented significant differences between LGBT and heterosexual groups in mean quality of life scores and odds of sexual satisfaction. The most prominent reason behind these results, the authors suggested, may be the presence of “minority stress,” caused by “experiences, anticipation, and internalization of discrimination, as well as concealment of one’s sexual orientation.”

Having a positive view of one’s sexual identity is associated with increased quality of life, the authors said, adding, “It is therefore important that health care professionals working with LGB[T] older people identify signs of minority stress and emphasize affirmative sources of help.” They concluded, “If global demographic trends continue, the proportion and visibility of older LGB[T] people will continue to increase, which signals a great and urgent need for more research concerning this underserved population.”

This study was conducted by researchers at the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Center for Public Health, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria; Cambridge Centre for Sport and Exercise Sciences, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK; Division of Psychology, School of Psychology and Sports Sciences, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK; Institute of Outcomes Research, Center for Medical Statistics, Informatics and Intelligent Systems, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria; Ludwig Boltzmann Cluster Arthritis and Rehabilitation, Vienna, Austria; Department of Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention Research, Alberta Health Services, Holy Cross Centre, Calgary, Alberta, Canada; Preventive Oncology & Community Health Sciences, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada; National Research Council, Neuroscience Institute, Aging Branch, Padova, Italy; Department of Geriatric Care, Orthogeriatrics and Rehabilitation, F.O. Galliera Hospital, National Relevance & High Specialization Hospital, Genova, Italy; and Department of Behavioral Science and Health, University College London, London, UK.

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JAMDA is the official journal of AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine. JAMDA publishes peer-reviewed articles including original studies, reviews, clinical experience articles, case reports, and more, on all topics more important to post-acute and long-term care medicine. Visit for more information.

About the Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine
AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine is the only medical specialty society representing the community of over 50,000 medical directors, physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other practitioners working in the various post-acute and long-term care (PALTC) settings. Dedicated to defining and improving quality, we advance our mission through timely professional development, evidence-based clinical guidance, and tireless advocacy on behalf of members, patients, families, and staff. Visit for more information.